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Business News/ News / India/  Houston showcases strong India-US ties

The mega community event of Indian Americans in Houston on Sunday, christened “Howdy Modi", has turned out to be a celebration of ties between the two democracies in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump. The event also featured a cultural show exhibiting Indian musical and performing art forms.

Trump’s presence at the three-hour event is an honour for the Indian Americans and a great achievement of the Indian-American community, given that this is a rare instance of a sitting US president attending an Indian-American and Indian community gathering. It is also proof of the rising profile and importance of the Indian community in the US.

When Modi took the stage, the packed stadium reverberated with applause. Junior senator for Texas Ted Cruz said while welcoming Modi that the event was a celebration of the friendship between America and India. “Our nations have interests that are intertwined. We share a history. We share cultures. We share language. We share values. India is the largest democracy on the face of the Earth and America is proud to be your friend."

At least 50,000 people were present at the NRG Stadium in Houston.

The event comes against the backdrop of trade tensions between India and the US rising in recent months after the US withdrew preferential access for Indian products recently and India raised import tariffs on 28 US products. US companies have invested $23 billion in India between April 2000 and June 2019, accounting for 6% of the total foreign direct investment inflows into India in equities during the period, which is led by firms from Mauritius and Singapore.

This is Modi’s third engagement in Houston after his arrival on Saturday in this southern US. The visit began on a business note with India’s state-run Petronet LNG Ltd signing a pact to negotiate the sourcing of around 5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) liquefied natural gas (LNG) from US developer Tellurian Inc.’s Driftwood project in Louisiana. Soon afterwards, Modi met with members of Sikh, Dawoodi Bohra, and Kashmiri Pandit communities based in the US, the Prime Minister’s Twitter handle said.

A 50-member delegation of Sikhs from across the US met Modi and thanked him for removing the names of over 300 Sikh foreign nationals from blacklist, news agency Press Trust of India reported from Washington. The Indian government had last week removed these names after a review carried out by different security agencies on the Adverse List or blacklist, PTI said. The Sikh delegation met Modi on Saturday in Houston and presented him with a traditional siropa (long scarf).

Scores of members of the Balochi American, Sindhi American and Pashto American communities landed in Houston on Saturday itself from various parts of the US to hold a first-of-its-kind demonstration in America in front of the NRG Stadium on Sunday to urge Modi and Trump to help them get freedom from Pakistan, PTI reported.

Modi’s previous engagements with the Indian community in US were in 2014 and 2015 at New York’s Madison Square Garden and the SAP Center at San Jose, California respectively. The previous two events had seen some 20,000 people attend them.

After the “Howdy Modi" event, the Prime Minister is scheduled to meet members of the US Congress who were present at the event before departing for New York on the second leg of his visit.

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Updated: 23 Sep 2019, 12:29 AM IST
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